Like many Los Angeles Lakers fan favorites, Ivica Zubac’s journey into the hearts and minds of the team’s dedicated fan base began in Las Vegas.
But while Zubac was a relative unknown entering the event in 2016, the promise he started to show in the Thomas and Mack center carried over into a regular season in which he went from D-League assignments to hearing his name called amongst the Lakers starters in the span of a few months.
Zubac has been declared out for the rest of the season with a high ankle sprain, a disappointing development for himself and the team. However, his somewhat shocking ascent has left many with big hopes for him going forward, and perhaps no one has bigger hopes than the Zubac-sized expectations of the man himself.
“Last summer league was easy for me,” Zubac said. “I think I’m going to do just fine. There’s a lot of experience. I think next summer league I’m going to dominate.”
He’s not the only Lakers rookie to have confidence headed into Las Vegas. Medina wrote that “Ingram boastfully predicted he will average 40 points in summer league while Zubac will average 30.”
Could Zubac or Ingram actually do so? No player did last season, with Trey Lyles coming the closest with 29 points per game. Never say never, but it seems unlikely.
The biggest confirmation here is that both rookies plan to play in Las Vegas, not always a sure thing with second-year players. This is good news for the Lakers, who need their core players to get all the experience playing together they can get heading into what will be a pivotal year in determining what this group’s ceiling might be. If it’s as high as Ingram and Zubac’s self-confidence, the Lakers are in good shape.
Medina’s whole story is a fun read, and you can do so here. All stats per NBA.com. and Basketball-Reference.com. Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.